The Power List 2020 – Power List
Director, Centre for Eye Research Australia; Ringland Anderson Professor and Head of Ophthalmology, University of Melbourne; Honorary Professor of Ophthalmology, University of Sydney, Australia; Honorary Senior Research Fellow, University of Cambridge, UK
Piece of advice for your younger self?
I’m not sure my younger self would have listened, but I’d say don’t expect to get to where you want to go by driving in a straight line. I am a sailor, and I now realise a career as a clinician scientist in ophthalmology is a bit like sailing; you know roughly where you want to go, but you have to make best use of a changing environment, variable wind direction and a crew with complimentary abilities to get to your destination. And weather the occasional storm!
The most serendipitous moment of your career?
Hard to say – I’ve had a fair bit of luck along the way. Perhaps the most serendipitous event was my first meeting Peter Watson in Cambridge. He became a mentor for over 20 years and inspired me to follow the path that I have.
The most unexpected turn your career took?
I guess moving into ophthalmology in the first place. I had thought I would become a neurologist, but I really did not enjoy my first job in the specialty and was close to leaving medicine entirely. It was a visit to a friend in Bath who was doing ophthalmology which turned things around. He seemed to be having much more fun in a specialty with effective treatments, satisfying microsurgery, grateful patients (on the whole) and lots of gadgets to play with. So I applied for an Ophthalmology job in Oxford which I didn’t get – it was pointed out that spelling the specialty wrong on the application probably hadn’t helped. I was luckier with the next application and things went from there.